How do you know?

How do you know?

Guido de Bres is one of those guys that has been lost to history. Fortunately, however, his impact is still felt. He was a student of both John Calvin and Theodore Beza, and in 1561 he authored the Belgic Confession. This Confession was meant for the Spanish government. It was both to defend the Calvinist (showing that they were not like the radicals reforms) and to call for reformation in Spain. Instead it got him killed. In 1565 de Bres was arrested and tried before the Spanish Inquisition. He would die just a few days later.

One of the striking lines in the Belgic Confession deals with how we know what we know. It says this:

All these things we know from the testimonies of Holy Scripture as well as from the effects of the persons, especially from those we feel within ourselves.

What the Belgic Confession is saying that we know what we know from both the Scriptures and the indwelling of Holy Spirit (Though, the Holy Spirit's indwelling connects us to all the other members of the Godhead, but that's for another day.). That is to say, the grounds for all Christian thinking is found in both Scripture and God. The Belgic Confession is pointing to the fact that we cannot know anything truly without that thought finding its foundation in these two places (Interesting side note that I was reminded of by my good friend Tom Goddard, the Westminster Confession starts in these two places Chapter 1: On Scripture and Chapter 2: On God).

Interestingly, however, what we find at an even deeper level is that all that we know is really grounded in the Trinity. You see, in the Trinity the Father fully reveals himself to the Son and the Spirit. This revelation makes the revelation of Scripture possible. Augustine says that it is God's self-communication in the Godhead that functions as the archetype for the revelation that we have in creation. There is a sense then that all revelation is Trinitarian revelation. Nevertheless, there is something special about Scripture. We know God to be Triune, not on rational grounds, but solely because Scripture proclaims him to be. Though all revelation in general sense reveals God, only Scripture reveals him in a special sense. That is to say, it is only in Scripture that we know the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and that we experience the communion of the Spirit. You see it is only in Scripture that we get a picture of and come to know the Triune God.

For the Christian, the Trinity functions as the central doctrine. If it is lost, all ability to think clearly is lost. The Trinity is the very center of Christian beliefs. It is only when we have the lens of Trinitarian doctrine in front of our eyes that we clearly see the world around us. It is only through Trinitarian lenses that we understand ourselves in be children of the Father who have been redeemed by the Son and are in communion with the Spirit. As Bavinck put it:

Every blessing, both spiritual and material, comes to us from the triune God... Christians have God above them, before them, and within them. Our salvation, both in this life and in the life to come, is bound up with the doctrine of the Trinity.

The triune God defines reality for us. We see him plainly revealed in Scripture. He can communicate to us because in his very being he is in relationship. He is a God who fully communicates himself and thus makes communication with us possible. As Christians, all our thoughts must be brought back to this truth because it is only in the confession of the Trinity that life can make any sense. It is only in confession of the Trinity that we are able to answer the question, "How do you know?"

 

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